With all the fuss about the impressive 1080p video recording and the gorgeous new SuperAMOLED Plus display we might have missed a pretty cool new feature of the Samsung Galaxy S II – its MHL port. Long story short it’s a port that integrates HD TV output into a compact microUSB-shaped connector.
The MHL standard specifies a 5pin port that can output HD video up to 1080p/60 and 192 kHz 7.1 channel audio to HDTVs. And that’s only one of its fancy features. Now for the details.
Here’s what it does
MHL stands for Mobile High-Definition video Link, a standard that’s introduced in 2010 and set to be actively promoted by Nokia, Samsung, Silicon Image, Sony and Toshiba.
The MHL link not only can output video and audio, but MHL-enabled HDTV sets are also capable of supplying the portable playing device with constant 5V, 500mA current so that you can charge your battery while you watching a video on the big screen.
Best of all, you can navigate the multimedia features of your mobile handset with the MHL-enabled HDTV set remote control via the A/V link – it’s built right into the standard MHL specifications.
The MHL specification also fully supports High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) so you will be able to playback copyrighted content right off the bat making it that much compatible with various video sources.
It’s a regular port too
And it doesn’t end there – there’s also full support for the standard functionality you are used to see from microUSB ports. So the jack on the Samsung Galaxy S II is backwards compatible with standard microUSB cables so if you are not going to use the TV-out functionality you won’t need any extra cables. There’s internal wiring that tells the port what has been connected to it (TV or computer) and it puts the smartphone in the appropriate mode.
It might look like a small improvement compared to two separate ports, but it’s actually a pretty important step forward. The MHL standard will allow slimmer and more compact devices, without sacrificing any functionality.
I suppose we should see even more MHL-enabled devices come out in the first half of 2011. And we bet MHL connectivity will be the next killer feature to look for when buying a new HDTV.
What the future holds
Besides the current ver. 1.0 of the standard, the MHL Consortium is already working on version 2.0, which should also support 3D playback. We still don’t know when that will become ready for the market.